Buttering up the Germans

 

Sir, – It may seem strange that your Ipsos MRBI survey shows that “Germans overwhelmingly think of Ireland in terms of green countryside even though only a small proportion of them ever visited this country” (Home News August 27th).

It is surprising but what should not be surprising is that 11 per cent of those surveyed would make an instant connection between Ireland and the Kerrygold brand. Bord Bainne, or the Irish Dairy Board as it is now known, directed much effort and considerable investment over a period of 30 years towards developing a credible connection between Ireland’s clean, green and beautiful pastures and its dairy products – “Das Gold der Grünen Insel”, as the slogan had it. This was done mainly through the medium of German television with images of Ireland that almost invariably focused on the landscape.

This long-term and patient approach to brand-building has been more than amply rewarded in that market of 80 million people.

I had the privilege of managing the board’s German operation for a number of years just after the Berlin Wall came down. Suddenly with reunification we had ready access to a new market of another 20 million potential customers, many of whom already had that green image of Ireland in their heads.

I recall on more than one occasion meeting young people from the former GDR who told me that the very first trip they made when it became possible to travel abroad was to Ireland.

Why Ireland? Apparently it was because of those very same landscape images they had been getting on West German television stations.

Angela Merkel was born and brought up in East Germany. Is it too much to assume that her early impressions of Ireland were shaped by those same images? – Yours, etc,

PATRICK McDONAGH,

Richview Park,

Dublin 6.